AFC West: Jon Ritchie
January, 22, 2013
By Bill Williamson | ESPN.com
The reaction is pouring is after Tim Brown made powerful accusations against his former Oakland head coach, Bill Callahan.
The often outspoken Brown told SiriusXM NFL Radio that Callahan “sabotaged” the team before its 48-21 thrashing against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the Super Bowl 10 year ago. Brown said Callahan changed the team’s offensive game plan late in the week and the team couldn’t adjust. Brown suggested Callahan did it because he wanted his friend and former Oakland coach Jon Gruden to win the game instead himself and his team.
So far, most of the reaction from people close to the situation does not back up Brown’s claims.
Former Oakland linebacker Bill Romanowski said Brown was “delusional” to think Callahan would sabotage his own team.
Former Oakland running back Zack Crockett said the game plan was “tweaked” from a run-first to a pass-heavy attack as a result of center Barrett Robbins disappearing from the team. Brown, however, suggested that Robbins went missing after the game plan was changed.
Former Oakland running back Jon Ritchie seemed to be on Brown’s side, according to a text to ESPN’s Chris Mortensen.
"I've said it for years. What we practiced heavily during the week is not what we ran in that game. Could have been due to Barrett's absence. It was never explained to me. I believe I said it on the record every year we talked about the Super Bowl [when he was with ESPN for four years]. I always thought it would get sensational like this," Ritchie wrote in the text.
However, another former Raiders offensive player who didn't want to be named, told ESPN that he did not agree with Brown.
"No, he [Tim] isn't right. While there was always dysfunction, that didn't happen. If anything Bill wanted to kick Jon's a--. Nobody would do that. Brutal. We got out-played and out-coached. Period," the former player wrote in the text to ESPN.
I tend to believe what Crockett said, that Callahan changed the plan because of Robbins leaving. That is believable. The idea of a head coach tanking an entire year’s work and jeopardizing his own future to help a friend win the Super Bowl is simply not believable.
Callahan lasted another year in Oakland after the Super Bowl flop. If the late Al Davis had any suspicion that his own coach threw a Super Bowl, there would be no chance Callahan would have kept his job.
UPDATE: On his SiriusXM show, the quarterback of that Oakland team, Rich Gannon, said he doesn’t believe Callahan would have done what Brown accused him of doing.